Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mystery Loves Company

I often talk about the important role that mystery plays in forging emotional connections with people. Whether you’re an artist, an entertainer, an advertising creative or an educator, getting a strong reaction from people requires a bit of mystery.

This is partly because mystery is such a ubiquitous part of our world. From the inner workings of the human mind to the nature of the universe, there seem to be an infinite number of unanswered questions about our existence.

Why am I waxing philosophical all of a sudden? It has to do with a medical study that I recently read about. It’s forthcoming in the Southern Medical Journal. The study showed strong evidence for the healing power of "proximal intercessory prayer." This is when one or more people pray for an individual while in their presence.

According to this article:

“A team of medical doctors and scientists led by Indiana University professor of religion Candy Gunther Brown found in the study, conducted in rural Mozambique, that prayer brought "highly significant" improvements to hearing-impaired participants and significant changes to the visually impaired . . . Two of the hard-of-hearing study participants were able to hear sounds at 50 decibels lower after the prayer session and three of the visually impaired subjects saw their vision improve from 20/400 or worse to 20/80 or better.”

Whatever your feelings about religion, this is a mysterious – and humbling – finding. Every now and then, it’s refreshing to be reminded how incomplete our understanding of our world really is.

1 comment:

Melanie Copus said...

'The Natural History of Unicorns' (Lavers, C.)- suggests that myth is needed in order to balance the human mind - ie. to keep you sane, especially in times of social and geographical change.

Quoted from an article in the New Scientist magazine, 4th April 2009, the book presents the theory: "belief in mythical animals is a product of social change - is central to Bigfoot, an exhaustive study of wild-man myth-making in the 20th century. Buhs's book starts out in similar territory to that of Lavers, suggesting that the Himalayan legend of the yeti became "folklore for an industrial age" because it meshed well with Britain's post-colonial concerns and drew on popular fascination with far-flung places - a kind of media-accelerated version of the same processes that created unicorns.

Buhs goes on to describe how the search for Bigfoot and Sasquatch was dominated by the concerns of white, working-class men. For this disenfranchised group the quest was a validation of their lifestyle, skills and knowledge, which they perceived as being threatened by mass media, formal education and popular culture. "